In need of its first win, South Tama's boys' soccer team fought back from a 2-0 deficit on the road Monday afternoon and earned a dominating victory.
After losing its first three games, South Tama was searching for its first win when it played at Independence. Despite a sloppy, wet field and two injuries to prominent starters, the Trojans were able to rally to victory.
The Trojans were playing without goalkeeper Luis Perez and center midfielder Alejandro Martinez. Eric Luna replaced Perez in the goal and Jose Alcazar filled Martinez's spot on the field for Monday's game. Two players, Tony Cervantes and Santiago Villafana, were also making their first varsity starts of the season.
Independence took advantage of the wounded Trojans' squad early in the contest. The home team scored its first goal on a point-blank shot in the fourth minute. Independence scored again just eight minutes later on a corner kick that was headed into the STC goal.
"It was easy to see that we weren't playing up to our potential," STC coach Dima Shklyarov said. "The hope was never dying, but it took another 10 minutes until we changed the course of the game."
After falling behind 2-0, South Tama picked up its intensity and aggressiveness. Adrian Castanon and James Lares helped STC continually pressure the Mustangs' defense and goalkeeper. South Tama broke through when Alcazar headed the ball into the goal. Castanon earned the assist with his corner kick to Alcazar. The ball bounced off Alcazar's head, hit the post, deflected off of a defender's foot and slowly rolled into the goal.
The game would get tied six minutes later. Independence tried to intercept a sharp pass to Castanon, but instead kicked the ball into his own net. Less than a minute after the own-goal score, Alcazar provided a nice cut-through pass to Jerry Lowe, who used the breakaway to score.
Lowe's goal gave STC a 3-2 lead, which it maintained through the rest of the first half. Castanon almost scored late in the half, but his shot ricocheted off of the post. South Tama's starters, with the help of bench players Juan Jesus Angel and Victor Chaves, who both played significant minutes, took control of the game.
The second half of the game started with Alcazar creating another opportunity for Castanon, who scored at the 44-minute mark. Castanon's goal gave STC a 4-2 lead. During the next 30 minutes, Independence fought hard to score as it took advantage of its height and strength. The wet field, which turned into a muddy field, also contributed to numerous collisions and players falling down. STC defensive midfielder Cesar Rivera-Nunez had to be escorted from the field after one dangerous play that resulted in Rivera-Nunez losing chunks of skin from his ankle. He later returned to the game.
Two yellow cards were awarded during the game. Independence earned one for a tackle on Lowe. Castanon also received one for excessive force.
Despite the tough second half, SCT withstood the Independence attack. Lowe ended the scoring with a goal in the 76th-minute. He received the ball near midfield, broke free through the defense and scored the Trojans' fifth and final goal.
Luna ended the game with 10 saves Monday. He made two dives late in the game to deflect the ball from the corner of the goal.
"The Trojans played an outstanding quality of game in the last hour of this contest," Shklyarov said. "It insured the belief that this South Tama team can play very well."